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Wells City 10 - Bath City Youth 3

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A disappointing score-line as we played well in parts;  from 5-0 down we pulled back to 5-3 and were in the ascendency.  However, we gave the ball away far too cheaply, and were not sufficiently competitive when the opposition were in possession.

Critically, some boys need to work a lot harder:  when our player has the ball, others need to find space, provide options for the ball carrier, lose their markers and move the opposition around to create opportunities for our players; some boys are just too static.  When in transition and not in possession, they must delay the opposition, press, block and challenge with commitment to win back the ball.  As the experts said again on Match of the Day 2 this week, the best teams have players who work hard, whatever their technical ability;  Berbatov is the example often used – a player with outstanding talent who gets left on the bench because he doesn’t work hard enough for his mates.  A team cannot afford to have players who stand and watch;  instead of being in a position to help with a 3v2 overload in attack, or 3v3 in defence, we found ourselves 1v2 in attack or 3v2 against us in defence;  over the period of a match, these regular imbalances will eventually be reflected in the score.  Wells City played at a far higher tempo with fit players working hard all over the pitch, and they deserved their victory.

I was pleased that the boys instinctively tried to play one-touch football in the first half;  if this has become their natural style then we’ve achieved something very positive for their future development.  Unfortunately, when playing on a sticky pitch, the technique needs to be revised quickly.  A 6 yard pass on a fast Lansdown pitch becomes a 3 yard pass on a muddy Wells pitch and our good intentions presented the opposition with many intercepted passes.  So we didn’t really get going.  Wells sprayed the ball around with accuracy – on the ground at times, but mostly in the air (perhaps to avoid the stickiness) and we were out-run, out-muscled and generally outplayed – certainly in the first half.  We had only 2 genuine attacks during this period;  as Joe P pushed further forward, we eventually scored our first goal – an own-goal forced by driving to the goal line and cutting back the ball to the danger zone – the move we practise every Friday.  So we were on the score-sheet.

At half time, we discussed the role of the 2 holding midfielders;  having had to re-arrange our team before the start of the match, we tried a number of combinations there in the first half;  we reviewed how one player should cover if the other joined the attack;  however, we found that both players were often playing too high at the same time;  one dribbling with the ball.  Players know that we should avoid dribbling through midfield – we should pass out safely from the first two thirds - yet we were caught in possession here too often, only to see the opposition take the ball quickly into the wide space behind, running fast at our back four largely unopposed.  We also talked about being more committed to winning the ball back, and generally being more brave around the park.

So for the first 20 minutes of the second half, we looked like a different team.  Joe P moved to a more forward position and struck one from the edge of the box to make it 5-2.  Fred, who had an excellent second half, followed up the rebound from his own shot to score our third and we were definitely back in the game.  Then a number of dozy incidents led to our conceding several goals which put the game beyond reach. Communication between goalie and defence needs a lot of work;  it’s been much improved in the past few weeks and this confidence needs to be shown every week (so more of this on Tuesday).

Until Joe P and Fred played higher up and ran purposefully at the opposition, we struggled to create any chances up front.  In addition to technique, we need strength, pace and commitment to be competitive against the stronger teams, so we will continue to review selection in this area.  We have been working for the past month on counter-attacking at speed - whether or not players can run fast naturally, the ball must move forward quickly and support players need to work their hardest to be in a position to help.  Wells is a strong, fast team;  they gave us a clear lesson in attacking at pace, with 3 or 4 players getting forward into threatening positions regularly.

Having said all this, the boys still played in a good spirit despite the goal count, and did not appear too down-heartened at the end.  They had their own ideas on how to improve, and this is fantastic.

Lewis did a grand job;  having commented on the general work-rate of teammates at half time, he certainly put in a good shift, setting a great example and covering a lot of ground.

Fred led the way in pressing the ball high up the pitch and winning it back from some seemingly impossible positions.  Josh, similarly, never stopped running and caused problems for the opposition on the left wing.  Paddy, in his first match, showed good touch, clearing the ball off the line on one occasion; and Jack reached a number of defensive headers from set-pieces - Tuesday training is certainly helping here.

So chins up – there were some great individual performances  - we play Wells again next week - at home this time.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 17:18  

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